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A new conception of science

Maxwell, N; (2000) A new conception of science. Physics World , 13 (8) 17 - 18. Green open access

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Most scientists hold that theories are accepted and rejected on the basis of evidence, no metaphysical thesis being accepted permanently independently of evidence. But in physics only those theories are considered which are sufficiently simple, unified or explanatory, even though disunified rivals, potentially even more empirically successful, could always be formulated. This persistent preference for simple, unified theories means, it is argued, that physics makes a substantial, problematic metaphysical assumption about the universe, namely that it has a more or less unified dynamic structure. Physics would be more rigorous if this problematic, implicit assumption were made explicit, so that it can be criticized and, we may hope, improved.

Title:A new conception of science
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version:http://physicsworld.com/
Additional information:© Copyright 2000 Institute of Physics and IOP Publishing.
Keywords:Physics, theory, empiricism, simplicity, method, metaphysics
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Science and Technology Studies

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